Over thirty years ago I told Father McGuire, my NYC-metro area high school counselor, that I liked working outside. He replied, “Well, Frank, we have good farming schools here in New York state. You should learn to be a farmer.” So I enrolled in the Dairy Farm Management program at SUNY Cobleskill, where I quickly learned that dairy farming is half about cows and half about growing grass to feed them. After meeting Bob Emmons, professor of turfgrass science there, I quickly realized that I wanted to grow grass for a living.
Fast forward many years and that early instruction in animal and grass management has come home to roost. In addition to my work at Cornell, I co-own Bel Canto Farm with my wife, Barbara. We raise alpacas for breeding stock and fiber production and also have a few pigs. This year, turkeys and meat and egg chickens are on the way. I absolutely LOVE my work at Cornell and TurfNet AND I love farming.
There is ALWAYS something to do on a farm and yesterday was shearing day. This year we decided to be more involved holding the animals for the shearer. As he began to instruct us I asked, “What’s the hardest part of shearing?” He replied, “The head…”, he was right!
Ten hours and 40 animals later — covered in spit, manure, and loose fiber — we were done.
A few local farms, even one with llamas (a close relative to alpacas in the Camelid family), brought some of their alpacas here to be shorn. We started preparing at about 7am and by 9am we were at it. Ten hours and 40 animals later — covered in spit, manure, and loose fiber — we were done. Can’t wait for next year!